Let’s face it: ever since Parks and Recreation premiered, we’ve harbored the secret desire to be a little more Ron Swanson-esque. Whether it’s his unshakeable self-confidence, stick-it-to-the-man-ness, fabulous moustache, or general badassery, we could all be a little more Swansonian. Enter Woodworking 101 – the perfect intro to the world of Swanson. Please and thank you.

When I arrived at Joseph Budka’s studio (after getting a little lost and a lot enticed by all the delicious smells in Chinatown), I could already tell I’d love the class. The smell reminded me of the “Little House on the Prairie” childhood I had (by which I mean I read the book). Joseph is himself an eerie mixture of Pawnee Ron and Eagleton Ron – he definitely has a Zen way about him. Obviously super-knowledgeable with a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and two decades of woodworking under his belt, Joseph gave great background on the machines and the techniques, and really personalized feedback.

I had to leave after the first cuts were made, but I ran into one of the students today; she reported that the cutting boards turned out great, and that hers was especially abstract (whether that was on purpose is, as always with abstract art, a question for the ages).

Quick Facts:

Come to this class with your…your dad, your boyfriend, or anyone you want to prove to that you can handle yourself around heavy machinery.

Use this class to…feel like Paul Bunyan, overcome your fear of spinning blades, and make something to show off to your artsy friends.

You’d be surprised…that you can make an adorable mustache cutting board in just one session!

Highlight of the class: When Joseph quoted Mr. Rogers, reminding us that there’s “only one you and there’s no one quite like you” – so be careful when using the saw!

Appropriate hashtag: #MakeRonSwansonProud

Lingo: kerf, n: the space created by a saw, when the two sides of material are still attached at one end, but not at the other.

What to do in the area: Take your pick from some of the best Chinese restaurants in town (some faves include The Phoenix, Go4Food, and Lao Shanghai), check out the Chinatown Bazaar for cute gifts, browse for teas at Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng, or celebrate with some traditional Chinese spirits at China Place Liquor City (note: only do this post-woodworking, when you are a safe distance away from any and all saws)